April 3, 2018

Rick Layzell Orillia Regional Meeting 400Boating Industry Canada News Week attended the March 27th Boating Ontario Regional Meeting in Orillia and we were pleased to see that the strong attendance we reported at the March 8th Hamilton meeting, has continued.

CEO Rick Layzell brought lots of energy to the day and an agenda of useful and informative sessions too.  The Orillia session had 46 people signed up and a few additional were expected at Rotary Place – an impressive crowd for sure. The association has gained 28 new members in the last 2 months, the website is much improved and most importantly, the survey input gathered in January at the boat show is clearly guiding the association to where the members need it to go.

The four biggest issues impacting the members’ ability to increase their business were staffing, Government related issues, water levels and the business generally. Shortages of skilled technicians are a significant hurdle, but we learned that Georgian College continues to support the industry and that Rob Davidson who head up Georgian’s program, is now an ABYC Certified instructor and can deliver more courses using the widely recognized ABYC materials.

Rick Layzell also emphasized that we need to get high school aged students to put the marine industry on their career choice lists and the ABYC has their Marine League of Schools program available to help secondary schools offer that training to young people. There are three high schools in Ontario currently offering some marine tech training. He also stressed that we should be promoting marine careers to our customer families – the ones who already are interested in boating will be far more receptive.

Layzell especially emphasized that we need to develop full time job opportunities – young people are not interested in seasonal work.

Communications are particularly a key focus for the association and Layzell has important plans for their website, newsletters and video newsletters. He recognizes the importance of keeping the membership informed of all the activities the association is engaged in. Boating Ontario is working closely with the Ministry of Tourism who are aware of the significant supporting role boating plays for tourism and they want to partner with Boating Ontario on awareness campaigns.

This fits well with the associations goals to increase boating participation. The continued and industry-leading Clean Marine program also supports that and Kevin Gallagher was there in support of the Clean Marine program too.

The close association with Parks Canada and the Trent Severn, Rideau systems were discussed in detail. Waterways Manager Chad Buchner was on hand to describe the success they achieved last year with a 31% increase on the Trent and 16% increase on the Rideau system. Their key focus after offering free lock passes last year to boost boating traffic is Customer Service and we can look forward to more promotion for boating participation this season and beyond.

The agenda also included sessions by Workplace Safety (WSIB) and a presentation by Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). It was a packed but valuable agenda and there were some important questions from the floor that were answered as well.

Presented by HUB Insurance, the Boating Ontario regional meetings continue to April 27, with upcoming presentations scheduled for Smiths Falls on April 4 and Spanish on April 26-27. Additional information on each upcoming meeting and a full schedule can be found on the Boating Ontario website, at https://www.boatingontario.ca/cpages/regionalmeetings Lunch is provided, and advance registration is greatly appreciated.

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